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Of the 80 matches in the Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova rivalry, Navratilova's 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the 1984 US Open may have been the most compelling.
Navratilova had beaten Evert 12 straight times coming into that match and most of the results were one-sided. Navratilova had beaten Evert 6-3, 6-1 in the U.S. Open finals the previous year and had defeated Evert 6-1, 6-3 on Evert's best surface in the finals of the 1984 French Open.
More of the same was expected in the 1984 US Open finals. Instead, the match became a turning point.
Evert did not win, but she showed more variety in her game and greater stamina. More significantly, at age 29, she showed herself and the world she could still compete with Navratilova. Evert beat Navratilova the next time they met, and the two competed on relatively even terms over the next four years.
The 1984 US Open finals represented the 61st meeting between the two rivals, whose contrasting styles and friendship made all their matchups intriguing. For this one, Navratilova was riding a 54-match winning streak, one shy of Evert's Open Era record.
When Evert broke through to win the first set, the crowd erupted.
It was "louder than anything I have ever experienced in my life," Evert said in an excerpt from Johnette Howard's book, The Rivals. "I remember walking off for the changeover thinking, 'I am finally going to do it.' And it seemed like everyone else thought so too."
Evert might have won her seventh US Open title if she had taken advantage of an opportunity in the 10th game of the second set. She trailed 5-4, but hit three marvelous winners to get a double break point at 15-40 on Navratilova's serve.
Even though Navratilova missed her first serve on the next two points, Evert was unable to produce the big shot. Navratilova held serve to win the second set, then finished it off in the third. Despite the brilliant shot-making by both players, Evert felt she choked.
"It was the most devastated I've ever felt over a tennis match," she said in The Rivals.
Navratilova's winning streak would reach 74 before she lost to Helena Sukova in the Australian Open.